(Otherworldly Mystics, 2014)
Back when I was jotting down in a notebook all of the names I wanted to call my nonexistent band, I hit on “Swirl” as the perfect sounding name for a shoegaze/dream pop hybrid. (I was in high school. This was the 1990s.) I listened to a lot of Medicine and Starflyer 59 back then, and the haze of guitar and effects that overwhelmed the vocals (and many times the rhythm) was intoxicating – I really wanted to do the same thing. “Swirl” put into words (well, word) not only the mission statement but also the sound I was going for.
“Haunter” is a pretty good name for this band. The slabs of thick, distorted guitar on these five tracks define the atmosphere and overwhelm the other elements in the exact right shoegaze way. Imagine being buried under a pile of leaves in late October, raked to perfection by your dad, and knowing that any ghouls that might emerge at dusk won’t be able to get at you because you’re safe under your pile. Haunter is that pile of leaves. Haunter is your dad. Haunter has a rake with a quarter-inch jack and a distortion pedal and lotsa reverb. Haunter’s gonna play football with you later.
Hey, I’m back! Kinda went down a path there. Haunter the tape is short, sure, but there’s a lot of great tunage to wrap your brain around (or the tunage is going to wrap itself around your brain, I haven’t decided which yet). It’s shot forth with the self living of Medicine (see what I did there? I have no idea what it means though), so it’s a good thing I still return to Shot Forth Self Living and Starflyer 59’s Americana on a regular basis. I’ll have to add Haunter to that list. “June,” “Breather,” and “Constellation” lurch and heave, but leave chem trails of gorgeous lead guitar melodies during moments of clarity. “Worm” is the poppiest indie pop song, but coated in sugary sheets and intimately cooed Ira Kaplan–esquely to me and me alone.
So are you ready for a full-length now? I sure am. (Besides the quieter Bandcamp ones, which are fine, but I really like what Haunter’s doing here.) It’s good to be reminded of the delicacies that can be crafted from a well-set effects rig. Even on closer “Feel You,” a slow jam that is begging to be played at prom (be that kid and ensure it makes the playlist!), the effects pedals are stomped decidedly on, washing my already addled brain with even more pastel addling. It’s like a whitewash cleansing bleachsheet washbath swirlybird swirlhaunt swirlswirl. I’m making up words now! It’s like I’m lysergically impaired without even dosing. Shee whiz.
RIYL: Medicine, early Starflyer 59, Pale Saints, Gish-era Smashing Pumpkins, Yo La Tengo